High art in Dayton

Art on the Commons at Fraze Pavilion

By Leo DeLuca

Photo: Browse the selection of prints at Art on the Commons at Fraze Pavilion on Sunday, Aug. 11; Photo: Thom Meyer

 Art on the Commons Fine Arts & Fine Crafts Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The exceedingly popular event takes place at Kettering’s Lincoln Park Civic Commons on Sunday, Aug. 11, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m, and is facilitated by Rosewood Arts Centre.

Curated by a jury of art aficionados, Art on the Commons features more than 100 artists from across the country. Jewelry, ceramics, paintings, photography, metals, watercolor, sculpture, glass, fibers, wood creations and more will be on sale at varied prices.

The “American Creative Music” of Puzzle of Light and the “Motown-inspired” sounds of The Sly Band will entertain folks throughout the day. Fine foods will be available from a wide array of local vendors.

I had the opportunity to speak with Shayna V. McConville, cultural arts manager at City of Kettering Parks, about the beloved arts event.

Art on the Commons is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Who had the original idea for the event? Who are the founders of the event? How has it changed and grown over the years?

When Rosewood Arts Center opened for its first full year of operations in 1985, the City of Kettering’s Cultural Arts Superintendent Connie Campbell was interested in giving Rosewood a national presence amongst artists. Campbell, along with Ceramic Studio Coordinator Katherine Palmer, decided to create an arts festival at Rosewood featuring approximately 50 artist booths, which happened for the next two years. Around the same time, Lincoln Park Civic Commons was being developed as a park, and Campbell knew the festival would be a good match for the scenic site. The arts festival at Rosewood became Art on the Commons in 1988 when it launched at Civic Commons.

The goal of Art on the Commons has remained consistent since its inception: To create a destination to see high-quality arts, to focus on highlighting the excellence of the artists participating and to create a positive experience for artists and the public in showcasing their work to the community. The results have paid off. The second year Art on the Commons took place, national art festival-themed Sunshine Magazine selected Art on the Commons as one of the top 10 art festivals in the country. The festival has continued to remain highly ranked every year with outstanding feedback from the participating artists and the audience. – Shayna V. McConville

What is the normal attendance for the event? What’s the biggest crowd you’ve had?

Art on the Commons is a one-day event, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. – although a one-day is not unusual, a majority of art festivals are two- or three-day events. Last year we had an amazing turnout with over 7,000 people attending the festival! The Civic Commons Park was packed with folks enjoying the beautiful weather, top-notch art and great food and entertainment. -SVM

What are some highlights from
past events? 

The festival features a wide range of artistic technique and materials and we like to include demonstrations in jewelry, glass and clay at the event. Last year we had a huge success with the Kettering Rotary Club, who hosted a chalk art area of the park and encouraged visitors to create their own artwork at the festival. This year, the Kettering Arts Council is planning a series of interactive activities, including hands-on painting with We Care Arts and a petting zoo of instruments, courtesy of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. We are also planning some additional surprises for the audience! -SVM

On your website it says art for the event is “selected by a jury of arts professionals.” Who are these professionals? How do you go about selecting them? 

The jury process is incredibly important to the quality of our festival. We look for a range of professional, active people from the creative community with diverse backgrounds. Typically, the jury panel consists of someone who represents the arts in both Dayton and Kettering and someone from further afield. It may also include artists, educators and arts administrators. Each juror brings a diverse perspective; they look at the quality of the artwork individually and as a body of work. The jury also looks at the artwork relative to the other entries in the same medium category, the mastery of the medium and what will give the audience the most diverse and high quality experience.  -SVM

Compared to other mid-size cities, how would you say Dayton fares in its support of the arts? 

Dayton has a rich artistic and cultural community. The support for the arts is major in Dayton – it is remarkable for a city our size to have so many opportunities to engage with the arts and an audience to support it. The diversity of events, exhibitions, performances, festivals and education is broad and it can be at DIY (Do It Yourself) spaces to institutions. I find it impossible to be bored in this region; there is always a lot happening. -SVM


Art on the Commons takes place Sunday, Aug. 11 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Lincoln Park Civic Commons, 675 Lincoln Park Blvd. For more information, please visit fraze.com/art-on-the-commons/ and ketteringoh.org/departments/parks-recreation-cultural-arts-prca/cultural-arts/rosewood-arts-centre/.


Reach DCP freelance writer Leo DeLuca at LeoDeluca@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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